LANL Oversight/Radioactive and Hazardous Materials committees hear progress
CAROL A. CLARK Monitor County Editor
The cleanup accomplishments of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) were presented to members of the New Mexico Legislative Laboratory Oversight and the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials committees Monday at the Research Park.
"This was a dual meeting of the two committees and we had the New Mexico Environment Department and Sandia Laboratories at the meeting," said Rep. Jeannette Wallace R-Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Sandoval. "Sandia talked to us about their consent order and compliance."
Wallace chaired Monday's meeting and said LANL Associate Director Susan Stiger briefed members on the laboratory's environmental programs, and also talked about their efforts and progress on NMED's Consent Order for cleanup and remediation of laboratory contaminated areas.
"I think the Legislature needs to be updated," Wallace said. "I'm not sure of our accomplishments because we seem to go around in circles, but when everybody has to state their positions, that is a good thing. And it's good that our committee members ask follow-up questions."
Wallace asked the NMED how much the federal government reimburses them for overseeing environmental issues at the lab.
"They said they get reimbursed between $1.1 million and $1.2 million," she said. "I didn't get an answer when I asked how much we have paid in fines and where does the fine money to the state environmental department go."
Wallace said the meetings provide LANL and Sandia with an opportunity to express their accomplishments and explain what they are doing.
"We always seem to hear in the news that they aren't doing anything but in reality they do a lot," she said.
Los Alamos Assistant County Administrator Anthony Mortillaro and county councilors Robert Gibson and Jim Hall attended the meeting, Wallace said.
Espanola Mayor Joseph Maestas asked to attend the meeting as well, she said. Maestas was the last item on the agenda, Wallace said, adding that when he spoke of concerns regarding laboratory funding and employee cuts, she told him Los Alamos also is concerned. She said when he brought up the lab's gross receipts tax, she explained to him the state takes more than 60 percent of that tax.
NMED hazardous waste bureau chief James Bearzi also briefed committee members Monday.
Bearzi told committee members that the NMED is looking forward to a much more productive dialogue with LANL.